The FIA, the governing body of Formula One, will begin an inquiry into a possible conflict of interest involving Toto Wolff, the team principal of Mercedes, and his wife Susie. Susie is the managing director of the F1 Academy, a female-only series managed by Formula One Management (FOM). Both Mercedes and F1 have denied the accusations.
The FIA has not revealed the identities of the involved parties, but it is believed that they are under investigation based on unconfirmed claims that Wolff may have shared information in a meeting with team leaders that could only have come from FOM.
The FIA stated on Tuesday that they are aware of rumors circulating about confidential information being shared between an F1 team principal and a member of FOM personnel. The FIA’s compliance department is currently investigating the situation.
The concern has been raised due to the potential for the couple to share information that is not accessible to other parties, specifically other F1 team leaders. This could occur in both directions, as the Mercedes leader may have access to information from FOM, and FOM may have access to private discussions among team leaders. Susie Wolff, as managing director of the F1 Academy, has a close working relationship with F1 chief executive Stefano Domenicali.
Mercedes expressed concern over the recent FIA announcement and refuted any claims that team principal Toto Wolff had acted inappropriately. In response to vague accusations from a single media source and an unofficial briefing linking them to the Mercedes-AMG F1 team, Mercedes released a statement acknowledging the FIA’s statement but stating that they had not been contacted by the compliance department regarding this matter. They also found it unexpected to learn about the investigation through a media release.
We completely deny the accusation made in the statement and related media reports. These allegations unfairly question the honesty and adherence of our team leader. We always welcome open, timely, and clear communication from the FIA compliance department regarding this inquiry and its details.
FOM maintained that there was no conflict of interest and dismissed the allegations as baseless.
“We note the public statement made by the FIA this evening that was not shared with us in advance. “We have complete confidence that the allegations are wrong and we have robust processes and procedures that ensure the segregation of information and responsibilities in the event of any potential conflict of interest.
We are certain that none of our team members have shared any information without permission to a team leader. We advise against making reckless and unsubstantiated accusations.
There have been no public statements from any teams regarding the issue, but it has been mentioned that Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of the FIA, may be asked to launch an inquiry.
In 2013, Toto Wolff took on the role of team principal for Mercedes. Since then, the team has achieved eight constructors’ championships and seven drivers’ titles. Susie Wolff, a former driver, previously served as team principal for the Venturi Formula E team and was appointed as managing director of the F1 Academy in March, just before the start of the series’ first season.